Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

House & Home Cleaning & Caretaking

The Inviting Life

An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness

by (author) Laura Calder

Random House Canada
Initial publish date
Nov 2017
Cleaning & Caretaking, Entertaining, Etiquette
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2017
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Far more than a guide to homemaking and being a fine host—although it is definitely all that too—The Inviting Life is about how to live each day with a desire and determination to turn the ordinary into something lovely. It’s also a book about why we should bother. Whether the subject is décor, ambience, shopping, feeding weary travellers, mixing cocktails, planning dinner parties, or getting yourself motivated for spring cleaning, Laura Calder affirms the value of our everyday activities and shows how beauty, creativity, and delight have the power to change the world. This one-of-a-kind book is both a page-turning narrative about Laura’s own hosting and home-making adventures and an invaluable work of reference. It’s a spur to ideas for everything from creating a welcoming living space and making a respectable salad, to putting guests at their ease and writing a thank-you note worth receiving. Written with candour and humour in Laura’s inimitable and engaging voice, The Inviting Life offers empowering guidance for anyone looking to take more pleasure in their life and home.

About the author

LAURA CALDER is the author of French Food At Home; French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating, awarded gold at the Canadian Culinary Cookbook Awards in 2010; and Dinner Chez Moi: The Fine Art of Feeding Friends.

She wrote and hosted 78 episodes of the Food Network Canada series French Food at Home (also airing on Cooking Channel USA and worldwide, and the winner of a James Beard Award for best food television show in a fixed location). She also hosted the James Beard-nominated one-hour special The Chateau Dinner and was a participating host in the Food Network Canada Christmas special Twas the Night Before Dinner. She was a panel judge for two seasons on the Food Network Canada series Recipe to Riches, and has judged on both Iron Chef America and Top Chef Canada. In 2011, Cooking Channel USA produced and aired a one-hour "Chefography" on Laura Calder, a biography of her life and career in food. She has most recently filmed a one-hour special/pilot in the French Alps for Cooking Channel USA, which aired August 2012.

Laura Calder's profile page

Excerpt: The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness (by (author) Laura Calder)

A Digestif

It’s a given that when we host a party, or attend one, we’re expected to put our best face forward: we’re at ease, we look good, we’re smiling and welcoming, we’re showing genuine interest in other people’s comfort, and we’re being generous and helpful. It’s not realistic to maintain these levels of grace and charm around the clock, day in and day out, but it isn’t a bad notion to have that ideal in our minds as a guide and at least to strive for that, not just at a black-tie event or a community barbeque, but everywhere—at the office, on public transport, in an overcrowded shopping mall. For one thing, it’s a good way to snap ourselves out of being grouch almighty or from acting like a sulky opera heroine whenever we find ourselves in situations that push our buttons, say in a traffic jam or dealing with a customer-service rep over the telephone.

I suppose every era has the same complaint (at least somewhere on the planet), but I have to say that in my lifetime, the world has never felt more uncivil or full of hatred, violence, and fear. The Middle East is a disaster; much of Africa is in strife; Europe is straining at the seams; the states of America feel about as united as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle spilled out of their box onto the floor; the World Wide Web is a perpetual warzone of differing opinions and standards of behaviour. Not that anyone ever said life was all roses, the world one giant, fragrant garden of justice and kindness. Evil is always with us, jerks always among us, and every era has its reasons for getting up in arms.

Thomas Hobbes famously wrote, “No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” If you want to get depressed, it doesn’t take much. It’s overwhelming, too, because when the world is in so much trouble all at once, those of us who care can feel powerless and wonder how we can begin to try to fix it.

I’m hoping that the answer is “little by little.” Our tiny, so-called insignificant daily acts—helping someone across the street, watering a flower, making a good soup—are cracks in the gloom that let in light. The more rays we allow through, perhaps the sooner the skies may clear. “That best portion of a man’s life, his little nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love,” as Wordsworth phrased it, is, at the end of the day, what’s at the heart of hosting and making home.
These are the thoughts and actions that can flip the coin from hostility to hospitality side up. These oft-dismissed activities in fact can be important leadership roles, major civilizing forces vital to the health of society and an essential place to start taking back power and changing the world.

Ten Ways to Make Life More Inviting Right Now
1. Get in touch with someone you haven’t seen in a while and find out how they are (especially if it’s to heal an old wound).
2. Cook something delicious and invite someone over to eat it, even if it’s just a baked potato.
3. Clean something dirty, even if it’s just a doorknob.
4. Fix something broken, even if it’s just a fingernail.
5. Make something ugly or banal into something beautiful, even if it’s just your thoughts.
6. Say something nice, even if it’s just a whisper to yourself.
7. Do something kind, even if it’s just to smile at a stranger.
8. Give a thoughtful gift, even if it’s just a wildflower.
9. Lend a hand, even if it’s just holding open a door.
10. Write down ten more ways to make life inviting, and start making them happen right now.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Inviting Life:
"Laura Calder's charming voice transforms the idea of making our homes feel more inviting into something that is not only easy and enjoyable but a vital part of our day-to-day happiness." —Gretchen Rubin, New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before
"Laura Calder's charm, wit, and advice are truly encapsulated by a single word: inviting. In this book, Laura opens her front door to the reader with a smile, and inspires the confidence in us to do the same." —Anna Olson, author of Bake with Anna Olson
"I have waited a long time for a book about hosting and homemaking that wasn't chiselled out of a stone tablet and handed down from Mount Celebrilifestyle. The Inviting Life is no lecture series, but rather a thoughtful, fun (and funny) take on household hospitality and domestic dash. This book will make you rethink your home and how you live. Believe me—it's really good stuff." —Thomas Smythe, designer and columnist, House & Home magazine
"A home full of warmth and the comforting scent of cooking, an enticingly set table, free-flowing conversation, and kindness. Welcome to Laura Calder's world and her wonderful book. She is the real deal." —David McMillan, chef and co-owner of Joe Beef
"In The Inviting Life, Laura Calder shows us how to live in our spaces like we mean it. Her simple, unpretentious but creative tips and tricks will have you eager to get your next dinner party on the calendar the moment you put it down. A lovely guidebook with an important message: the social life is the meaningful life." —Katrina Onstad, author of The Weekend Effect
"Laura Calder understands that the role of a host amounts to more than cooking, cleaning, and becoming exhausted before your guests arrive. In prose as witty, stylish, and uplifting as Laura herself, she shows that the key to making guests feel welcome, comfortable, and truly happy is to connect people—and connect yourself—to your home and to your world." —Charles MacPherson, author of The Butler Speaks.
"Laura's charming book is a soothing antidote to the plugged-in and switched-on chaotic world we find ourselves residing in and reminds us of the simple joy and contentment to be found at home." —Sophie Conran 
"What a lovely book. I so enjoyed it." —Plum Sykes

“For those who delight in the nuanced art of etiquette and take pleasure from entertaining, the book is a conversational, whimsical read full of contemporary good ideas.” —NUVO Magazine

Other titles by Laura Calder

Related lists